September 28th


Hi All,

Well just back (with the emphasis on ‘just’) from a short, ‘hire and try’, campervan break to the beautiful Gower Peninisular and thanks to everyone for filling up all their cars, vans, e.t.c on the way back as we didn’t see a petrol station with diesel from The Gower to Market Harborough !

You couldn’t make it up, just one finger to point and that’s to the media and social media for creating this crisis just as they did the loo roll and pasta one during lockdown. Are these organisations answerable to no one because the power they have over society and societal behaviour is arguably more than any government ?

Thankfully, small Campers are nice and economic and we made it back with fuel in the tank to spare. A lovely spot, Rhossilli beach, some successful (ish) fishing (though fly fishing into surf is an acquired taste, particularly at night) and good to catch up with some friends on the way and down there (Cheers Jim & Debbie and Marcus for your time, cool beans).


Someone (thanks John) remarked to me about the weather and the timing of the transition into autumn this year and how it mimicked 2020 and 2019. It tweaked a memory so I went back to last years September blog of the same time and lifted this insert….

Looks like I listened to my own advice because sure enough this is the 3rd year in a row when the transition from summer to autumn, settled to unsettled, warm to cooler has happened in the 3rd week of September….Here’s the stats to prove it from The Davis Vantage Pro at The Oxfordshire….

Moral of the story, aeration work done by the 3rd week of September is probably a good idea and overseeding too !!!

Onto the weather……

General Weather Situation

So no surprise that the GFS output looks pretty unsettled with a big low looming out in The Atlantic as predicted in last week’s blog….

So for Tuesday we already have heavy rain into the South West and Wales with a raft of showers moving across Connacht and Northern Ireland as well. There’s also some heavy rain pushing in from the South Coast so it’s fair to say Tuesday will be another unsettled day for most areas starting cool as well despite the direction of the wind being south westerly. This rain in the west and south will move eastwards through the day with that rain over the north of Ireland pushing into the north west of Scotland. Ireland should miss most of the worst away from the west and north west coastline. A cool one or the new normal now with mid-teen temperatures the order of the day with a brisk to moderate south westerly wind whipping in that rain. Eastern areas of England will stay dry through most of the day.

Onto Wednesday and dawn will find that band of heavy rain still over East Anglia but clearing most of the the U.K as it does so. A much better day once that rain has cleared the east with a pretty dry outlook, save for some showers across the north west of Scotland. Not a warm one though as that wind swings round to the north west and pulls cooler air in so expect low teens to be the order of the day. A 10 – 13°C transition from this time last week. A bit of sunshine around across most areas so despite the cooler temperatures it’ll be a pleasant day and crucially, dry.

Late on Wednesday night we see rain move into the west of Ireland and push across Ireland into the west of the U.K by dawn Thursday. The heaviest rain looks to be for western Scotland, north west England and maybe North Wales. By mid-morning that rain will be into The Midlands and moving eastwards but the south of England may (may!) miss this tranche. This rain should clear Ireland by late morning and all but the east of Scotland. Those winds swing round to the south and west again and will increase in intensity so a breezy, wet and unsettled day with frequent showers, but feeling a little milder than mid-week with mid-teen temperatures returning.

Closing out the week on Friday, we have another unsettled day although I think Ireland will miss the worst of the rain. Scotland and the rest of the U.K won’t though with another heavy rain front pushing across Wales and the south of England into The Midlands and the north of England through Friday morning. Scotland looks to start wet but brighten up as we go through the morning and the rain pushes off eastwards. That’s the only advantage of Atlantic low pressure systems, unlike their BOB equivalents, they ‘tend’ to move through quickly at this time of year. Probably a better second half of the day I’d say for everyone with that rain clearing the southern half of the U.K for Friday pm. Windy and mild with a strong to gale force westerly wind in situ on Friday and mid-teen temperatures again.

Well no surprise that the weekend looks wet and unsettled, in fact very, very wet with severe rain expected overnight Saturday into Sunday for The South West, Wales, the north west and north of England, Midlands, Borders and the southern half of the U.K as that rain front stalls over this area rather than moving through. So wet, windy and unsettled for the west on Saturday with a chance it’ll be dry until dusk for eastern half of England. Sunday sees that rain front stretching from the south east of England up to the north before moving off eastwards through the course of the late morning. Ireland looks to have a showery Saturday but better on Sunday with showers in the west mainly. That heavy rain on Saturday night that is projected to affect the western half of the U.K only just misses the eastern side of Ireland and this may change so keep an eye on the weather radar for potential flooding. As that low moves through the wind will swing round from south west to north easterly and anything in between dependent on where you are located so changeable is the wind direction but it’ll be strong to gale force most of the weekend. Quite a change from the last 6 weeks when wind strength has been minimal.

Weather Outlook

Well quite a difference in the position of the jet stream vs. last week’s blog as the predicted southerly shift has taken place allowing cooler and more unsettled air to push in from The Atlantic and settle into a trough pattern.

It isn’t all doom and gloom you’ll be pleased to hear because it looks like that ridge of high pressure will (could) build across from The Atlantic during the course of next week and push drier and warmer weather in for the second half of the week 🙂

This time of year I think we tend to see a succession of peaks and troughs as the weather begins to tip towards winter and that’ll be the pattern I reckon for early October but having said that, this ridge of high pressure is currently projected to build through early October so maybe an Indian Summer awaits us….

So next week looks to start how this week is projected to end with cooler, wet and blustery weather pushing in from the west and affecting all areas. This pattern of unsettled weather continues through the week however the rain and wind tend to become more and more isolated to the north of Ireland and Scotland as high pressure builds from the south. So I think the second half of the week looks to be much better with settled conditions in the southern half of the U.K and Ireland and warmer as well with temperature I think climbing into the high teens and low twenties across the south of England. This pattern looks to hold into next weekend as well. Let’s see, we know a lot can change and this could easily tip on its head but so far it looks promising….

Agronomic Notes

Disease pressure…

The mid-part of September pushed in some really high disease pressure in terms of Microdochium and Clarireedia (Dollar Spot if you still haven’t got used to the new name :)) but this run of wet and windy weather will ironically drop that off as we have learnt that wet, mild and windy rarely means increased disease activity unless we see a sudden drop in wind speed, skies clear and we get prolonged periods of heavy dew.

So for the next week or so of unsettled conditions, Microdochium pressure and let’s call it Dollar Spot should drop back and with the rain and mid-teen temperatures we will still get reasonable growth though nowhere near where we were just a week ago…..I charted out September’s G.P data and put the next week or so’s projected temperatures in and you can clearly see the drop-off in growth that this commencement of autumn has brought about.

Growth potential actual and projected – Throws Farm, Essex

So we can see a drop off from near optimum G.P to 40-50% for the next 7-10 days but maybe an uplift after that ?

So we should see growth drop back, disease levels also and the arrival of cooler temperatures together with cooler rainfall has already had a profound effect on soil temperature with a significant reduction noted at the same location.

I haven’t got time this morning to produce a fancy chart so I snipped this one from the standard Davis output, you probably can’t see the axes labels that well but I think the gist is pretty clear !

Soil temperature @ 60 mm depth – Throws Farm, Essex

That may help to slow down earthworm activity and maybe insects as well as they’re all Poikilothermic 🙂

Switch in nutrition….

The commencement of autumn should also trigger a move to lower levels of nutrition and cool temperature-available ones at that because ultimately summer’s slow release forms will become extremely slow release when we look at the projected temperatures and G.P levels over the next 7-10 days ! You guys know the form by now, sulphate of ammonia, potassium nitrate, low temperature-available iron and the like are the tools for the job to keep the plant ticking over or maybe picking up growth if you got some scarring in mid-September from the rampant Microdochium and Dollar Spot that was present for a time.

As I have said before and particularly with Dollar Spot on outfield turf, we have a good window to grow some of the damage out before we tend to see the next ‘drop off’ in growth in early-mid November.

Well that is only 6 weeks away…crumbs, kind of focusses the mind doesn’t it ?

Yellow Tuft on turfgrass

Saturated surfaces warning….Yellow Tuft ?

Not the best of pictures but above is Yellow Tuft or Sclerophthora macrospora as Kate and other learned types likes to call it 🙂

With the arrival of some heavy rain and the threat of some very heavy rain for some areas over the weekend I think we will be seeing quite a bit of this on surfaces and particularly those on greens that don’t drain particularly well. It is kind of an unusual type of turfgrass pathogen because rather than being an out and out necrotroph (‘likes to kill’ the host), this disease is an obligate parasite, which in plain terms means it doesn’t ‘want’ to kill its host because it lives on it. The host turfgrass species is usually bentgrass or Poa annua.

It is easy to see whether you have Yellow Tuft or not because aside from the distinct small yellow patches, the affected plants produce multiple tillers at the base, thought to be as a direct result of hormones produced by the pathogen. Presumably some sort of gibberellin ?

It loves wet conditions, such as thatchy turf holding water on top and of course it will be encouraged by just the weather conditions we have seen of late and indeed have to come this weekend if the forecasters are right….You can read more about it here or here in a splendid piece written by Kate herself !

Now there isn’t a labelled control on the market as far as I am concerned but it does respond to cultural work (i.e changing the turfgrass conditions away from its preferred type) and anecdotally I’ve heard it doesn’t like certain micronutrients if you get my drift….

OK, that’s it for this week, next week will be the first blog of October and maybe a summary of September’s weather if I can get my act together !!!!

All the best…

Mark Hunt